The hurricane-riddled lower 9th Ward of New Orleans will be completely drained of flood waters for a second time in four to five days, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official said Wednesday, and residents will have crews from Germany, Luxembourg and Holland to thank for helping to pump their community dry.
Some of the roughly 100 volunteer technicians first helped pump the lower 9th Ward dry after Hurricane Katrina ravaged a section of levee on the Industrial Canal in late August, then watched as Hurricane Rita's storm surge topped the repaired levee Friday and submerged the area again.
Oliver Braun from Germany, Alex Petitnicolas from Luxembourg, Jaap Van Wissen from Holland and the other volunteers have been working alongside the Corps of Engineers, the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, the Orleans Levee Board and National Guard soldiers in the heat, humidity and stench.
"It's been a total team effort, a team of teams,'' Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, commander of the corps' Mississippi River Valley Division, which includes the New Orleans District, said as the stood on the west bank of the Industrial Canal across the water from the twice-patched levee.
Kudos also came from Joseph Sullivan, the former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe and Angola who -- from an office in Baton Rouge -- is coordinating international assistance to this country's Katrina relief efforts for the State Department.